Google under fire for "failing to stop easy access to porn" despite tweaking search results in the US to hide indecent images

Google under fire for 'failing to stop easy access to porn' despite tweaking search results in the US to hide X-rated images
Search engine fails to makes it more difficult to find pornographic images Plans only in effect in America but due to be introduced internationallyCompany refuses to say, however, when restrictions will be introduced in UK
Internet users accuse the company of 'censorship'

|

UPDATED:

23:06 GMT, 13 December 2012

Google has come under fire from child protection campaigners after its claims to have put effective safeguards on access to porn were called into question.

The internet giant had changed its programming after earlier criticism so as to make X-rated pictures more difficult to find.

But a trial carried out in the US by the Daily Mail revealed that such images were still easily available.
Entering the word 'porn' in a search on Google brought up hundreds of X-rated pictures.

The world's number one search engine tweaked an algorithm for their image search database in the U.S. making it harder to find sexually-explicit images.

Restricted: Google tweaked an algorithm for their image search database in the U.S. making it harder to find explicit images

Google, based in California, has become the biggest search engine in the world

Giant: Google, based in California, has become the biggest search engine in the world

The result brings into question Google's claim that users in the US would have to be more specific if they wanted to view porn.

The changes had affected users in the
US only. Those in the UK do not at present have the supposedly improved
programming and there is no timetable to bring it in.

Google has also changed its
'SafeSearch' filters which allow users to completely block porn. In the
US there are now only two options for pictures – filter all explicit
results or not at all. UK Google users have three options, which are
potentially confusing – no filtering, moderate or strict.

John Mann, a Labour MP who has
convened Commons meetings on the misuse of the internet, said the
simpler measures in the US should be used in Britain too.

He said: 'Parents need to be able to
make a clear choice so they can do what they need to do. One system
across the Western world, including the UK, seems sensible.'

John Carr, secretary of the
Children's Charities' Coalition on Internet Safety, added: 'It's good to
see Google acknowledging the problem but let's hope they get it right
because the evidence so far is not conclusive.'

Google's search restriction is only in place in the U.S. but the company said it hopes to roll-out the changes internationally

Restriction: Google's search restriction is only in place in the U.S. but the company said it hopes to roll-out the changes internationally

The Daily Mail is campaigning for an
automatic block to protect children. Under the plan over-18s could
access porn only if they 'opt in' after a strict age verification check.

A spokesman for Google said: 'We aim not to show sexually explicit results unless a user is specifically searching for them.'

Despite Google's aim 'not to show sexually-explicit results unless a user is specifically
searching for them', users will notice little change.

The restrictions, which have only been introduced in the US, only apply to Google's 'image search'.

Further, Google also said that the change applies on computers that have the 'safesearch' setting
activated – a mode that already attempts to filter graphic content from web
searches.

David Cameron last month expressed his desire to introduce restrictions on computers to prevent children from viewing online porn.

The
Prime Minister has rejected an automatic block on porn but has
signalled his intention to set up opt-in controls for parents.

The move follows increasing concern that children in the UK are being exposed to graphic images at a young age.

Under
Google's new US measures, wide searches such as 'porn' will return no
results. But the company said that users could still find what they are
looking for by using more specific terms.

Turning on the SafeSearch filter in the US will now entirely wipe clean any results for search words like 'porn' or 'boobs.'

Some
internet-users in the US described the change as 'censorship' and took
to website's such as Reddit to criticise the company.

One user named okeman wrote: 'You can take away our privacy, but if you mess with porn, the internet is going to be MAD.'

Another wrote: 'Oh great, now I have to explicitly
state what I am looking for, which then gets saved to my search history
so I can't pretend I just stumbled on it.'